Free food promotions usually mean cattle call mob scenes at restaurants, but not this week at 32 Tampa Bay area Chick-fil-A stores that are deploying an online reservation system to invite customers to pick a free breakfast item.
In the past, Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A used a website reservation system for customers to get their hands on free spicy chicken sandwiches and spicy chicken biscuits for individual item promotions, but this week is the first time the Atlanta-based chain is using the reservation system to allow patrons to pick from multiple items and choose a specific hour-long window time and store location.
Only 32 stores in the Tampa Bay market in the 1,550-unit system are participating in this Chick-fil-A reservation test.
Requiring customers to use the online reservation system to get their freebies allows local store operators to know how much food to prepare and labor expectations, said Mark Baldwin, a Chick-fil-A spokesman.
“From our side, operationally, it helped to know how many people are coming and when so you can have the fresh products and the manpower,” Baldwin said. “It alleviated the cattle call.”
The participating Chick-fil-A units are using the reservation system to showcase eight breakfast entrees, including a new oatmeal offering and chicken, egg and cheese on a sunflower multi-grain bagel. Chicken biscuits and burritos are also available.
Customers go online and pick a specific location, entrée and one-hour time slot in the morning and then print a reservation with the local owner’s name and face on it to redeem at the site.
The reservation system functioned well, plus drove traffic and sales, the chain said. Consider one Chick-fil-A store in north Tampa where the number of customers spiked 37 percent Tuesday and 48 percent Wednesday, said Ricardo Sanchez, the store’s owner. He noted sales soared by more than 20 percent for the breakfast segment Tuesday.
Sanchez said his store is giving away about 600 free breakfast entrees a day this week, Sanchez said. The promotion ends Saturday.
“We want to make people know that Chick-fil-A is a good option for breakfast. People are saying they didn’t know we had bagels in here,” Sanchez said.
The chain is known for its chicken sandwiches for lunch and dinner, but this week’s promotion placed the spotlight on the breakfast choices, said Rob Copenhaber, a manager of a Chick-fil-A on 4th Street in St. Petersburg.
“It’s good to show the customers the breakfast options. Some did not know that we served breakfast,” Copenhaber said. He noted his store was giving away about 250 to 300 free breakfast entrees a day this week.
Contact Alan Snel at [email protected] .